Learning in quarantine: These edtech startups raised funds amid the COVID-19 pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has not spared any sectors. Along with the loss to lives, livelihoods too have faced significant damages. Moreover, the Indian startup ecosystem has not been immune to it as well.
A recent survey by NASSCOM on the impact of COVID-19 on Indian startups found that 40 percent of startups have either temporarily shut down operations, or are on the verge of shutting down.
However, the edtech sector has stood its ground during such unprecedented times. With schools and universities shut due to the pandemic-led lockdown, the education system in India has undergone a paradigm shift, with many edtech startups leveraging the situation to their benefit.
Much of the country’s education sector is going online to adapt to the new reality, which has resulted in a spike in the growth of edtech startups, with higher interest among users to consume educational content online.
In March alone, BYJU’s saw six million new students accessing free lessons on its platform, while Unacademy recorded 1.4 billion watch minutes. Further, Toppr saw 100 percent growth in free user engagement in the month.
Leveraging the shortcomings of the pandemic situation, these edtech startups raised funding:
Chennai-based edtech startup Guvi raised Rs 6 crore in April in its Pre-Series A round of funding from Education Catalyst Fund – an education-focused venture capital fund managed by CBA Capital.
Founded in 2014 by SP Balamurugan, Arun Prakash, and Sri Devi, vernacular language-based Guvi is an IIT Madras and CIIE (IIM Ahmedabad) incubated startup that offers technical courses created by industry experts in Indian languages.
It aims to use the capital raised to scale up its operations, introduce newer courses, and expand its geographical presence for its blended (offline+online) courses, said Balamurugan, CEO of Guvi.
Bengaluru-based online edtech startup Vedantu raised $12.56 million (or Rs 96.06 crore) from Chinese venture firm Legend Capital in April. Omidyar's Ohana Holding also participated in the Series C1 round.
In the same month, it raised $6.8 million of funding from South Korea-based KB Global Platform Firm. According to the filings with the Registrar of Companies, as accessed by YourStory, Vedantu allotted 3,82,235 Series C2 CCPS to KB Global. The premium amount per share is Rs 1,353.29.
Founded by Vamsi Krishna, Anand Prakash, and Pulkit Jain in 2014, the startup provides students with opportunities to learn the way they desire, by providing personalised teaching. It now uses artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and big data to refine its personalised teaching model.
Ahmedabad-based edtech startup Pedagogy, in April, announced that it raised $400,000 in funding led by Inflection Point Ventures (IPV).
Started in 2015 by co-founders Archin Shah, Abhilash Sonwane, and Ritesh Gandhi, Pedagogy is transforming the way students purchase and consume books while preparing for engineering and medical entrance examinations.
The startup has a Netflix-like single subscription model that allows its users access to the most popular books and digital courses from trusted publishers and coaching centres across India.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it has managed to adapt to facilitating book distribution for publishers, and helped make coaching classes ready for the eventuality of a hybrid learning system.
Founded by Ashwini Purohit in 2018, Winuall, this month, announced that it raised an undisclosed amount from Ankit Bhati, Co-founder of Ola, and Nitin Gupta, Head of Engineering, Milkbasket, along with other angel investors.
The startup said it will utilise the funds for expanding the business and curating more content, providing an entire ecosystem for the coaching industry across India. Recently, Winuall also launched live classes, which enables teachers to teach online.
During the lockdown, the startup claims to have seen massive growth with over three million minutes of learning in April, and with over four million responses from both teachers and students, providing in-depth analytics to both students and teachers.
B2B edtech startup Classplus, this month, raised $9 million (over Rs 68 crore) in the Series A round led by RTP Global. The round also saw participation from existing investors, including Blume Ventures, Sequoia Capital India's Surge, Spiral Ventures, and Strive.
"The capital infusion will be used to improve technology, while expanding the product offerings. It is currently used by more than 3,500 coaching centres across over 70 cities and towns in India, a majority of which are non-metropolis in nature," a statement said.
Started in 2018 by Mukul Rustagi and Bhaswat Agarwal, Noida-based Classplus is a mobile-first SaaS startup that enables private coaching institutes and their tutors to streamline their content distribution, payments, communication, and online assessments through an app.
The platform is also working with content publishers to establish easier access to online assessments for the ecosystem.
Gurugram-based edtech startup Camp K12 in April raised $4 million in a seed round led by Matrix Partners India and SAIF Partners.
Vikram Vaidyanathan, Managing Director, Matrix India, said,
“With the increasing penetration of devices and the internet across the globe, online learning for kids is becoming the norm. The team’s razor-sharp focus on building a truly 10X better product that enables highly engaging learning experiences for kids sets the startup apart from global peers.”
Founded by Anshul Bhagi and Sandeep Bhagi, Camp K12 connects students from kindergarten to Class 12, providing access to teachers for interactive, gamified, and live-learning courses for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) subjects.
Amid the coronavirus-led downturn, edtech startup Lido Learning raised a second round of funding in a week, with $7.5 million investment from Ant Financial-backed BAce Capital.
Within a year, the edtech startup has built a rapidly growing customer base across all major cities. It offers Math and Science tutorials for Classes 5-9 in ICSE and CBSE syllabi.
With the new funding, the startup plans to build its presence in Tier-II and III towns, and offer new subjects and skills.
Earlier in March 2020, the Mumbai-based startup raised $3 million in the Series B round led by Picus Capital, backed by Rocket Internet Founder Alex Samwer, and President of Paytm Madhur Deora.
With this, the startup’s overall funding is at $10.5 million.
Last month, Venture Catalysts – an integrated incubator and accelerator platform – announced that it has invested an undisclosed amount in edtech startup Qin1.
SKS advisors helped Qin1 in closing this transaction. Ankit Bhati, Co-founder, Ola; Sundeep Sahni - CCO, Rocket Internet; Mitesh Shah, Venture Catalysts Investor and CFO, BookMyShow; and J Curve Series 2 LLP, also participated in the funding round.
Founded by IIT alumnus Ishan Gupta and Aarti Gupta, Qin1 is a learning platform for kids in the age group five to 14 yrs. The startup focusses on making learning more fun and engaging for kids, and provides extra-curricular activities to children via a digital platform.
Edited by Suman Singh